EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006

(IW05)

European unification: anthropological perspectives

Location Chem LT2
Date and Start Time 19 Sep, 2006 at 11:30

Convenors

Irène Bellier (CNRS) email
Cris Shore (University of Auckland) email
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Short Abstract

What is European unification and how should we conceptualise it? What can anthropology contribute to our understanding of the EU, the process of Europeanisation and the implications of European integration?

Long Abstract

European unification is a project increasingly associated with the European Union and its policies for creating ever closer union among the peoples of Europe. However, the integration of European societies and the spread of European culture are processes that have followed a much longer historical trajectory, one whose roots lie in the legacies of colonialism, commerce and travel. Yet the same forces of modernity that gave birth to Europe's nation states and industrial society also contain economic imperatives that are undermining the coherence of that fragile European order. This workshop explores the concept of European unification from various anthropological/historical perspectives. In particular, it seeks to analyse those processes that contribute to integration and opposition in contemporary Europe. Among the questions/themes addressed are the following: 1. What is European unification and how should we analyse it? What can anthropology contribute to our understanding of the European Union and wider processes of Europeanisation? European unity as a model; Concepts of Europeanisation; Cultural dimensions of EU Enlargement 2. What are the boundaries of European society? Does Europe constitute a coherent cultural area? Mapping European culture; Ideas of Europeaness 3. What implications does European unification have for Europe and beyond? EU relations with the US and the developing world; Defence and foreign policy; Europe as a global actor 4. Commerce and colonialism were key elements that shaped 19th and 20th century Europe. How are trade, globalisation and post-colonialism reshaping the map of contemporary Europe? Branding Europe; Transnationals and cosmopolitans in the new Europe; Postcolonial orders/disorders 5. What role do technologies play in the creation of Europe? Transport and communications; Technology zones; Regulation and standardisation; Technologies of citizenship.

Chair: Cris Shore and Irène Bellier
Discussant: Andy Dawson

Papers

European governance, minority politics and the concept of people

Author: Irène Bellier (CNRS)  email
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Long Abstract

The European Union developed specific criteria for negotiating the accession of new member states that have served to adjust the financial, economic, and social institutions for the candidate countries to meet the European requirements. A key issue was to raise up the democratic standards for implementing human right policies, especially regarding the status of minorities. Several programs have been designed, a frame-convention has been signed, the charter for the protection of minority and regional languages has been ratified by some member states and an instrument to fight against discriminations has been adopted. That was reflected in the Treaty project for a European constitution. But the rejection by two founding member states and the difficulties induced for its ratification by the national parliaments or through referendum, revealed several dividing lines, among which figures the uncertain status of the European relation to "others" in the frame of neo-liberal policies. If a constitution is the sign of unification, "what is Europe and its collective project?" is one aspect of a question that haunts the citizens' imaginary and regards the definition of a European people. This paper intends to reconsider the notion of "people" the European Union seems to define or recognize as compatible with the promotion of its values, and the contradictions that limit the adhesion of the peoples to the European project. It questions the relative weight of the two pillars of the motto "unity within diversity" and the capacity of the EU to develop a multilevel governance that takes into consideration the many cultures and peoples and their relations to the national peoples and states that are presently associated to the EU system.

Symbolic roots of EU legitimation: a religious founding narrative for Europe?

Author: François Foret (Université Libre de Bruxelles)  email
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Long Abstract

The debate about the reference to the Christian heritage of Europe in the preamble of the constitutional treaty highlights the long-term search for normative legitimation of the European political project. What is at stake is the definition of memory as a political resource able to root the European polity in culture, to circumscribe a political space as a sphere of belonging and, maybe, to identify a significant Other. The use of the religious issue in the constitutional process revealed itself divisive and finally unsuccessful. The quest for Europeaness remains a cultural battlefield, and the crisis of Mohammad cartoons confirms the still deep gaps between those who believe and those who don't or believe in a renewed way.

This paper is a part of a more general research on European identity and the legitimation of the European Union. Among some of my publications on this issue are:

- (with Philip Schlesinger), « Legitimating the EU? Religion and the European Public Sphere », in Schlesinger P., Fossum J.E. (eds.), One EU - Many Publics ?, London, Routledge (forthcoming)

- (with Philip Schlesinger) « Political roof and sacred canopy ? Religion and the EU constitution », European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 9, n° 1, 2006

Civil society as identity politics: conceptual legacies and European belonging

Author: Daniella Kuzmanovic (University of Copenhagen)  email
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Long Abstract

One legacy used in various European and EU identity constructions is an intellectual legacy of societal thinking reaching back to Enlightenment. Within this social framework a conceptualization of civilization, progress and prosperity as something which is intrinsically tied to refinement of polity stands out as a pivotal point. With regard to EU identity construction this is not least expressed through the emphasis on shared (universal) political values, such as democracy and human rights, as something inherently European and a strong unifying factor.

The refinement of polity has since the fall of the Berlin Wall increasingly been associated to the development and strengthening of civil society forces. This is also apparent in an EU context not least with regard to candidacy countries. This expresses both an upsurge in academia, among policy makers and activists in the use of the notion of civil society, as well as the establishment of global dominance of a liberal ideological understanding of the notion, in which development of civil society and democracy goes hand in hand. In other words civil society has moved beyond academia to become a key concept with regard to EU identity construction, enlargement and unification efforts.

Looking at civil society activism in Turkey, the EU rapprochement of the last decades has without doubt contributed to advancing the idea of civil society forces as something which play a positive role in relation to the refinement of polity. It has also paved the way for changing conceptualisations among various social and political actors of what civil society and civil society activism entails. Newcomers to the dictionary of Turkish language such as lobicilik (lobbyism) reflect this. Where civil society was previously primarily conceptualised as a force creating fragmentations and incoherency, it has increasingly also become seen as a force which is able to create cohesion by creating links between social and political actors and the public both domestically and internationally.

This has of course also implied new political practices among civil society activists. An emerging shift from ideological fragmentation toward issue-based politics has slowly begun to produce horizontal networks among civil society activists and organizations. The formation of these networks has been greatly aided and shaped by new technologies, especially email-groups. Such groups are precisely formed on the basis of common topics of interest, and, furthermore, has the advantage that people do not need to meet face to face. Also at the discursive level activists' accounts reflect a sense of individualism, a growing awareness of themselves as brokers both with regard to the inclusion of the public in the state-market-civil society triangle and with regard to international linkages, also in relation to Europe and the EU.

What I aim to provide by way of this presentation is an example of how the formation of conceptualizations of EU and Europe, and the creation of a sense of belonging are, among other, (re)produced through particular performances of concepts which have emerged as central to European an EU identity construction, in this case the concept of civil society. This in hand of course also reinforces the centrality of such concepts beyond the performative contexts. Hopefully the insights of this presentation will lead us to retain strong attention to exploring how intellectual conceptual legacies and the development of these within and beyond academia can form part of the way cohesion and unity with regard to EU and Europe is produced in various ethnographic settings.

Hospitality beyond borders

Author: Senka Bozic-Vrbancic (University of Zadar)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper we address the meaning of the term 'non-European' as well as the meaning of European borders and the (im)possibility of hospitality beyond borders. According to Said the non-European is virtually a European invention, a system of representations framed by Western political power. Since the eighteenth century, systematic knowledge about the non-European has expanded (with the non-European identified as 'barbarous', 'uncivilised', 'primitive', 'Oriental', 'inferior'). The relationship between European and the non-European has been shown as one between a strong and a weak partner. In our contemporary moment of European unification the meaning of the term 'non-European' fluctuates more than ever before, and consequently it is now more difficult to define (non Europeans are presented as 'culturally different immigrants and refugees', 'non-democratic societies', 'terrorists' and so on). This labelling shows how the term non-European is a floating signifier, it does not have a constant, fixed meaning, but is in a constant state of change. In this paper we argue that even though the term non-European is defined by its very negativity, it pulsates with the positive; it pulsates with an unconscious enjoyment that slides imperceptibly into the discourse by which it is constituted (Zizek). Since the dichotomy of European/non-European implies a border which is constituted through specific European metaphysical violence (Derrida), a border that makes and unmakes identities, the question 'what is the non-European?' touches the Real of contemporary European society. In other words, beyond that question there are complex articulations, different imaginaries of European identity(ies), geographical and mental borders, different senses of closure that mark a broad spectrum of dilemmas of inclusion and exclusion: who is inside? and who is outside? who is welcomed and who is not? Hospitality, for Derrida, is unconditional openness to the in-coming of the Other, the possibility of acts of love and justice, a non-oppositional economy of welcoming one that is much more open to the experience of the Other as Other, to the stranger. That brings us to the crucial question of this essay: is it possible to have hospitality beyond borders? (or even without borders)? Or, in more political terms, are multiculturalisms, cosmopolitanisms, and the celebrations of differences just different versions of Eurocentrism designed, more cunningly and shrewdly, to tame the non-European?

The two-horned dilemma of the Siamese solution: a case study of the first agricultural twinning project in the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management

Author: Slobodan Naumovic (University of Belgrade)  email
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Long Abstract

This case study examines cultural contact, cultural change and eventual cultural hybridization, as well as cultural fissures and institutional conflicts ensuing from the implementation of the first twinning project in Serbia (the CARDS Programme Agricultural Twinning Project "Institutional Capacity Building within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management).

The paper starts from an analysis of preconditions for the successful application of Twinning as an instrument of institutional and administrative change in the frame of EU enlargement. It is followed by an assessment of the state of Serbian public administration, and of the characteristics of Serbian administrative culture in general. In the next step, presented are results of in-depth interviews with the STEs, RTAs and other project participants on their expectations and surprises; on various types of culture observed in the Ministry; on clashes between short and long term strategies and horizontal vs. vertical approaches in the frame of ATP; on conflicts between various EU partners in the project; and on transformative capacities of various elements of the Twinning instrument and the possible outcomes of the ATP.

Research on Twinning as a "Siamese solution" to the problems of legal, institutional and cultural change and homogenisation suggests that no instrument can be considered as a panacea to such complex issues. Success in motivating people, in inspiring trust, and in effecting gradual cultural changes that will persist even after the project ends can only come as a result of interactions between well intentioned, honest, trustful and respectful individuals from all engaged sides.

European unification as a regime of governance

Author: Cris Shore (University of Auckland)  email
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Long Abstract

Recent debates over enlargement and ratification of the Constitutional Treaty have once again highlighted problems of democracy, legitimacy and identity at the heart of the project for ever-closer European union. The EU's so-called 'democratic deficit' is often blamed for holding back the integration process and undermining the credibility of EU institutions, yet little consensus exists over its causes or solution. Most analysts agree that the design of the EU means that policy-making at European level continues to be dominated by executive actors, ministers and government appointees whose actions are beyond the control of elected national parliaments. Solutions proposed thus range from strengthening the European Parliament to creating a more viable European public sphere and politicizing the EU agenda, However, few move beyond these arguments to ask more probing questions about the longer-term trajectory of the unification process, what Joschka Fischer termed the EU's finalité politique, or the social and political implications of where the EU project is leading.

In this paper I examine both the 'standard version' of the democratic deficit (Majone 1996; Moravcsik 2004, Weiler 1995) and more recent critiques (Follesdal and Hix 2005). I argue that what is missing from most of these debates is recognition of the problems of identity and cultural legitimacy that necessarily underpin successful democracies. I also suggest that political science debates over the EU's democratic deficit and institutional reform conceal another issue of much greater concern; the Union's steady evolution into statehood.

Eurocrats at work: towards a postnational European community?

Author: Renita Thedvall (Stockholm University)  email
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Long Abstract

Within the European Union today, an attempt is being made to co-ordinate the member states employment policies through guidelines, indicators and recommendations. The development of indicators may be seen as a general global trend responding to demands for accountability, transparency and control over processes, a trend labelled audit society (Power 1999) or audit cultures (Strathern 2000). In the EU, the idea of transparency between the member states is seen as a step towards a more integrated EU. Eurocrats and politicians attempt to create a feeling of 'full attachment' (Appadurai 2000) to the EU, in the peoples of the Union, by the use of governmental technologies and cultural symbols (Shore 2000). Technologies such as 'transparentisation' of the nation states are part of this project (Shore 2000; Walters and Haahr 2005).

In the EU Employment Committee meetings Eurocrats from the member states and the European Commission negotiate on what indicators may or may not be used to evaluate, audit and compare member states employment policies. To study this I have followed the work of the EU Employment Committee through a trainee position at the European Commission and by following the Swedish delegation to the Employment Committee meetings. The discussions at the meetings reveal a struggle for power and control over how transparency is to be displayed and what member states want to be accountable for, making the vision of transparent, integrated nation states, forming a postnational EU, far from view. Or is it?